tv Melissa Harris- Perry MSNBC February 23, 2013 7:00am-9:00am PST
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plus, the stars of an oscar nominated film who are shaving heads on monday night. and, how a scene from "footloose" is the best thing that we can find to explain the sequester. but first, the death of a great american city. good morning. i'm melissa harris-perry. this week, the news out of the midwest was that of a city in crisis. detroit, michigan, once the nation's richest city per capita, once the nation's fifth largest city, once a symbol of u.s. innovation, industry and success, is in such dire straits that the city is in need of an intervention. on tuesday afternoon, a panel of state-appointed experts released their findings that the city of detroit faces quote, a financial emergency, one which they say the city is not equipped to address. as a result, detroit may soon become the largest american municipality in history to file
for bankruptcy. the decision may be left to just one person. if michigan governor rick snider decides to act on the panel's report and appoint an emergency financial manager, a decision expected to be made in the coming week. key findings of the six-person panel include that the detroit police department has more than 2,000 employees but no accurate information on how they are deployed. that the city's long-term liabilities in 2012 grew beyond $14 billion and that the city officials violated accounting and budgeting rules. detroit is on the verge of collapse but if you're thinking wait a minute, didn't we already save detroit, the confusion is understandable. because in the american lexicon, there really are two detroits, the proverbial one and the literal one. the proverbial one is the one that mitt romney famously wrote about in 2008 "new york times" op-ed entitled "let detroit go bankrupt." that is the detroit where we all
lived when the floor fell out of the 2008 economy. that was the detroit represented by the three big auto manufacturers whose failure would have symbolized to many of us the very failure of america, and that detroit as the obama for america campaign reminded us repeatedly, is now very much alive and kicking. but that detroit, the detroit we all want to see survive, exists in the entire country, not within any specific municipal bounds. then there is the literal detroit, the one where people live, the renaissance city founded initially in 1701. once it was a hub for mechanical manufacturing and detroit in the mid 20th century was a magnet for those looking for work. the city's population grew to more than 1.8 million residents in the 1950s. today, according to the latest census, detroit is the only -- the country's 18th largest city with just more than 700,000
inhabitants, for a city that covers almost 139 square miles. a space that san francisco, boston and manhattan could fit in with room to spare. there are so many factors contributing to the city's financial distress but among them, an 18.2% unemployment rate and there is this. the detroit news reported this week that nearly half of the city's owners of residential properties failed to pay their tax bills last year, amounting to nearly $250 million uncollected. no taxes, no revenue. even if everyone had a job in the city and they all paid all their taxes it wouldn't be enough because there simply are not enough detroiters. michigan's republican governor, that tough nerd rick snider drove the population point home in a thursday media roundtable. >> an overriding strategic goal for the city of detroit is back
to this. we need to grow the city of detroit. >> man, when you see a chart, you know you've got an answer. but actually, what i've got is a deafening question. how? how will you build the city for two million people and more than one million of them leave, can you ever get your city back? joining me now, a son and daughter of detroit. first, charlie leduff, a pulitzer prize winning journalist and investigative reporter for detroit's fox 2. he's also the author of the new book "detroit, an american autopsy." also with me is a nerdland favorite, jamel hill, a detroit native and columnist for espn.com and co-host of a new podcast, "his and hers." thank you both for being here. so i actually want to start with you, because to me, detroit feels like new orleans in a lot of ways in that people have an almost irrational attachment and love for the city so i will give
you a chance. represent for detroit. why should we care? >> well, i think what you said in your open was so true. this is not just the story of one city. this is the story of america. this is the story of boom or bust. as you so eloquently pointed out in your novel. we have all been a nation of overspenders, we were a nation of people who bought into the craze of industry and detroit, that is exactly what happened. you had a lot of people that migrated from the south that moved to detroit because of the promise of big dollars and big jobs, and when that started to cave in, it left kind of a permanent underclass and this is a city, i know we'll get to this a little later, that was stung by the riots and if you go down many detroit blocks, it's almost as if the riots just happened yesterday. so as much as we like to talk about how detroit, you know, is just now kind of failing, truthfully, i lived there all my life, detroit has been failing for decades. this is not a new problem. >> charlie, you make exactly that point. you're like okay, this golden age of detroit narrative, you --
>> the thing mom told us. >> you were like that's not true. that never existed. >> it didn't. look, why should you care? because first of all, there's human beings in detroit, period. that's not liberal or conservative. we're all on earth together so it's hell on earth over there. the ambulances don't show up, the police aren't working, we ran out of money, but we ran out of money everywhere, didn't we. so detroit's failures, you could actually look across the country and it mirrors it. there's no detroit democratic liberal running wall street. there's no detroit democratic liberal running halliburton. this is a national sickness. it is sloth, greed, ripping off our kids, not paying our bills. detroit built this country, everybody knows it, that's why we're talking about it. this isn't baltimore. detroit went down and -- >> he said this is not baltimore.
>> but pay attention. pay attention. because if you don't pay your bills, this is what happens to you. >> let me ask about that. i do think there's kind of two ways to read it. certainly even your book operates on these multiple levels. there's corruption and greed and bad things happening but as you point out, that's true in tons of american cities, where things are fine. or at least where they're limping along in a relatively reasonable way where we're still seeing economic growth, yet you can uncover -- scratch the surface, plenty of corruption and bad choices and not paying your bills. >> poor government. >> so why did more than a million people leave? what is it that led to that kind of exodus from detroit? >> we never dealt with our racial issues, right? we're from detroit. we thought we're the terminus of the underground railroad. turns out we're the southern town. we never dealt with race, did we? >> no. >> never did. everybody knows eight mile, right? well, eight mile is now 14 mile. that's one reason.
another reason detroit collapsed, listen, we're uneducated but you could come to detroit and make a life. you can have a boat and a country home. you can do -- put your kids through college but we didn't put our kids through college. >> i guess part of what occurs to me as i hear the stories of the human beings who live in detroit, not just the municipal spreadsheets -- >> thanks for saying that, by the way. this is not a book about dead buildings. >> right. right. you've got the governor with his chart and i just keep feeling like that chart is not telling me so i can give you a chart of the arson in the city. i can give you a chart of the blight in the city. but i can't tell you what it is like to be a person living next door to a home that then has burned down and -- so -- >> or an empty block. >> yeah. tell me, talk to me about what that kind of real life experience feels like on the ground. >> i still have many relatives that live in the city of detroit and i look at how -- i know i
work at espn but i'm not like that. i look at what's happened to their neighborhoods. it used to be a source of pride where you could shop in your own neighborhoods and feel comfortable and safe, and that has all been eliminated because the population has shrunk, people have moved out, and because of the economic forces, you wrote about a couple of these cases in the book and unfortunately, everybody who is from detroit knows someone who does this, but if you get underwater in your house, the first solution is burn it down, get the insurance money. so you have a lot of people, it's a huge problem. you have people sort of feeding on the underclass that's already there and you talk about this, irrational detachment to detroit. detroiters are very sensitive to the fact that our problems somehow become the butt of the joke in the entire nation. i'm not picking on chicago. chicago's murder rate, what's happening there, is unbelievable to me. but everybody still wants to go to chicago. chicago is still seen as this great american city. >> i got to jump in.
chicago a week ago friday, i was checking the numbers, had 50 homicides. detroit, which is one quarter the size and population, had 45. so if detroit was chicago, we would have 200 murders. nobody cares. >> right. the murder rate in detroit is higher. it's interesting you make this point. we'll go to break. i want to come back and talk more about this. but we have been pushing to try to get the ordinary nature of daily urban violence a place at the national table and it's pendleton's tragic death which gave us the chance to talk about it. it's still chicago and there's a way in which chicago matters. you don't even have to make the claim for it but trying to make the same claim for detroit. when we come back, i want to talk about exactly that. why does detroit matter and therefore, is it a job for more than just one person? lobsterfest is the king of all promotions. there's nothing like our grilled lobster and lobster tacos.
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right now, it's about survival. that's what detroit mayor dave bing told forbes about his city in 2011, two years before the magazine named detroit the most miserable place in the country for 2013. the article notes that detroit home prices already at historic lows, plummeted further by 35% during the past three years to a median of $40,000 as net migration out of the city continues. the housing crisis is only one of detroit's myriad problems. along with a staggering murder rate, high unemployment and scarce public services. if an emergency manager does come to detroit, that is an awful lot for one person, probably not even from detroit, to fix.
back with me are author charlie leduff and jamele hill. also, peter goodman, executive business editor of the huffington post and lisa cook, assistant professor of economics and international relations at michigan state university. previously she served on the president's, president obama's, council of economic advisors. all right. this is a complicated question and as we have just been talking about, it's the microcosm of our big piece. what do we need to learn economically as we go into so-called save detroit? >> i think we've got to look at it that this is not like a charity case. this is not that we're pitying the city that's been struggling. if detroit doesn't work, america's not working, because as you correctly say, what detroit's dealing with is emblematic of what america is dealing with. we've had manufacturing jobs that sustained people at middle class wages for generations, those jobs are gone. we haven't figured out how to replace those jobs. we haven't tended to the basics, government services, things that people depend on, whether it's
public safety or somebody keeping the lights on, picking the trash up. we've got a city that's now 25% smaller than it was a decade ago. we haven't figured out how to apportion the services and we have all these unfunded pension liabilities for people who actually did work and did do their part and should be entitled to a decent retirement and now the math doesn't add up. if we don't solve that there and figure out how to get people back to work, which the only long term solution to detroit's problem, the only long term solution to the american economic problem, we need good jobs. >> so let me ask you this. because it feels to me like what you just said, if i'm a conservative and i'm looking at this and i'm saying detroit is the miner's canary, i say yeah, this is how unions killed cities, this is how getting tied into pensions and long term care for workers ends up bankrupting who you are, and this is how extending public services into all of these poor communities is exactly the problem. yes, it's the miner's canary, therefore, let's go austerity. that's exactly what we can expect from an emergency manager, right?
austerity measures. >> i think this is what we would expect, but i think this is what we would expect from anybody who is going to be leading detroit. i mean, this is a downsizing that has been happening over 100 years, actually. it may have been much too large. this is not a city, this is a state. when i'm driving through detroit -- >> the size of it. >> exactly. exactly. exactly. when i'm driving through it, i'm wondering when it's going to end. okay, i'm a newcomer to michigan -- >> welcome. >> so you all talk about a great lake. it's not a lake. it's a sea. everything is big. >> it has a tide. >> exactly. i can't see the other side. so the same is true for detroit. this is possibly right sizing a city and it is very expensive to fund a city that people no longer live in, to achieve these economies of scale that you would have achieved had there been many more people there. >> but i can't think of anything that creates quicker cries of injustice than talking about right sizing cities. when i hear that as a resident
of new orleans living there post-katrina, that was exactly the discourse. make the city smaller, bring people in, you can't live in the neighborhood -- >> don't live on a flood plain. nothing crazy about that. >> there is, actually. because rich folks are allowed to make that choice all the time. >> rich folks live up on the hill. they don't live next to the river. get what i'm saying? that's what happened in detroit. we got to right size it. know what happened? economist, professor, we have uneducated people that had factory jobs and we never educated our grandchildren. and the factories are gone. it's time to leave. the city can't support itself in its big state version. it's got to downsize. it has to. whether you're a liberal or conservative, we all know the money's done. the money's done. stop spending it. >> it can't be contained just to detroit. >> no. >> you still have people with good ideas and entrepreneurial world, you have people eager for
work. you have a lot of work that needs to be done in detroit and its environment -- >> they're not going anywhere. they're staying in michigan. >> if we simply bring in an emergency manager and say do the math, the only thing you can do is cut. >> exactly. >> we have to. >> but you need help from outside. it has to be -- >> fine. we have to ask the banks, ask the creditors to give us a break. that hasn't happened on the federal level. >> you can't just ask. this is your point about it being, you know, you can't frame it as please come and charitably save my city. it has to be about generating an environment where business wants to come and where investment wants to occur and it seems to me that cutting city services, cutting the quality of public education, does exactly the opposite. it ends up not right sizing but just downsizing. >> detroit unfortunately has one of the worst national public relations problems, even though our problems are indicative of things happening everywhere, that's why i brought up the chicago example. they have a lot of problems there. they have problems here in new york. they have problems in l.a. l.a. had a gang problem for a
long time. that didn't stop people from coming there. >> you had a super bowl commercial from eminem, it was like the great public relations moment. it was great. but that's the perception of detroit is that why should we care, just let the city eat itself alive and i don't know what we can do to change the perception. >> it's a real issue. >> it is. [ speaking simultaneously ] >> jefferson county, birmingham, alabama is broke. phoenix is broke. l.a. has got worse financial problems than detroit. >> pittsburgh was broke. >> pittsburgh's still broke. >> they're coming back. >> they're not back. >> what would you do, charlie? just cut and hope -- >> we're cutting anyway. listen, man, there comes a time when the money runs out. listen, we already spent $20 billion. that's our long term debt.
our deficit today is a half a billion dollars. recon figu reconfigure what you're doing, whether you're tea party, we all know the government stinks. government stinks. they're not spending our money right. >> i would not concur the government stinks. in fact, i think in this moment, the only potential solution is in fact initially a government-based solution because investors will only come once you have an infrastructure in place. tell you what, i'm going to ask exactly that question about how we're going to manage this crisis to the man who was sent in to rescue detroit's schools. how did that turn out? [ female announcer ] nature valley protein bars, with simple, real ingredients, like roasted peanuts, creamy peanut butter, and a rich dark-chocolate flavor, plus 10 grams of protein, so it's energy straight from nature to you. nature valley protein bars. i'm here to pick up some cacti.
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doldrums, he was asked whether anyone had already turned down the job. he told the associated press quote, oh, yeah. there were quite a few people who are in that camp because if you think about it, and this is not going to imply we're going to do one, but it would be an extremely challenging position. joining our panel from washington, d.c. is someone who has been in that position, robert bopp, who was the emergency financial manager for detroit public schools until may 2011. he has 30 years of executive experience having worked in california, virginia, and washington, d.c. how are you this morning? >> good morning. how are you? >> so i am concerned and i'm particularly concerned with what happens if we bring in a kind of tech technocratic financial manager, exactly the sort of person you are, to do this turnaround. tell me sort of how does an outsider come in to a situation like this and make a difference? >> first of all, the outsider must recognize that detroit is,
in fact, a great american city and when you look at it from the outside, you appreciate that. when you're inside of detroit and in michigan, you have a great appreciation for it. so anyone who comes in as an emergency financial manager must recognize the fact that the human side of the business is equally as important as the financial side of addressing the difficult financial issues, and making the very difficult and tough decisions which have to be made. >> so let me ask you about democracy and democratic accountability. because on the one hand, bob, the idea of a technocratic manager who comes in who is free from election concerns is that you can make the tough choices without having to worry about a constituency. but on the other hand, you then don't have a constituency that can hold you accountable. how do we manage the democratic concern here? >> that is an excellent question. it is a question which i faced
on many occasions while i was in detroit. having been an elected official in my career, i could really appreciate that question but by the same token, the emergency manager, and there are important lessons that i learned in having looked back, one of which is you have to have a deep appreciation for those individuals who are elected to represent the citizens of whether it's a school district or whether it's the city. and you have to work extraordinarily hard to forge a relationship with those individuals so that they and you are on the same page, as it were, seeking to address an issue that would bring solvency to a situation where there is in fact insolvency. as i look back on my tenure and say what were the important lessons learned, the important lesson learned is the fact that
you can't dismiss the voices of people who challenged and criticized me on a daily basis for the difficult decisions that i had to make because of the whole notion of having been an emergency manager and having a negative impact on the whole notion of democracy and citizens' engagement and involvement in the process. >> in this kind of circumstance, what's the very first thing, if an emergency manager is put in place, what is the very first thing that he or she will have to do? >> first they have to do is ensure that there is a plan for in solvency. take all the studies which have already been done and consolidate those into one systemic, one plan. additionally as the crisis manager, you have to put in place the infrastructure to collect every penny, every dollar that's needed on the
revenue side. the second thing which has to be done is that you have to have an infrastructure of very smart people around you, both on the technical side as well as on the human resources side. and quite frankly, we in this business, we focus so much on the financial side that sometimes we dismiss the fact that there is a human side as well. so you have to have someone on that team who, when you're digging deeply into the financial issues, who can say okay, but what about the human issues and how do those financial decisions impact people at every level. then the third thing you have to do is what i have found, having been a city manager in a number of u.s. cities, is that some of the best ideas for how to bring financial solvency comes directly from those employees who have been in the trenches for years upon years.
i learned this lesson very well when i went to oakland, california as the city manager and engaged the entire work force in recommendations as to how we can move that city forward. >> bob, i really appreciate you taking the time to join us. this is complicated. for those of us who love detroit and care about what happens in this city, it's clearly just the start of a very long road. >> oh, it is. it's not going to happen within 18 months. it's going to take -- it's a long road to travel. >> thank you for joining us from washington, d.c. when we come back, the long simmering racial tensions of detroit. ♪ [ male announcer ] whether it's mom's smartphone... dad's tablet... lauren's smartphone... or kevin's smartphone... at&t mobile share makes it affordable for the whole family to share data on all their devices.
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as i mentioned before, the riots, it's like it just happened yesterday, not because of physically the way detroit looks but also the way that residents view one another. i was brought up, my mother, she grew up during the riots and you were brought up that when you crossed eight mile, the thoroughfair that separates city from suburbs you behave this way on the other side of eight mile. you know this, charlie. you follow the speed limit, you do all this because if you're from detroit, you'll have some problems. >> half the black population in the metropolitan area lives on the other side of eight mile now. >> yeah. >> we're over it. >> not over the racial -- >> not completely over it. >> we're not over the racial tension. this is part of the difficulty of bringing back cities with large black populations, right, because the bizarre thing that happens is you move into a neighborhood and then you decrease the value of the neighborhood by moving into it. so this is as dream hampton, kind of a friend of the show, when we were reading her work around sort of what happened in her community, it was all about
the attempt to integrate, right, black middle class detroiters trying to do better, integrating, but then as soon as they move in, you start seeing block busting. white families moving out. so you striving, you trying to do better, decreases the value of the very thing you're part of. >> when we talk about bringing back a majority african-american city, we're talking about going against the grain of decades of development policy that covertly -- >> destroyed it. >> it generated white flight. we talk about fannie and freddie making mortgages available to everyone. forget race. we built suburban sprawl. what was suburban sprawl about? one of the things was white people saying i would like to get my kids over the line to a brand new school where suddenly there's mostly going to be white kids around. and that's the reality that's baked into american history. now we get to a point where a lot of people who left the city and who were feeling real good about themselves in the suburbs find out that we always knew detroit was going to be a catastrophe. look, they can't even pay their bills, all these murders. after we've completely let the
infrastructure rot, we haven't maintained it, there's no money to throw at basic services, so it validates the very fear that a lot of predominantly white suburban families have had about the inner city forever. so in that context, we're now supposed to come up with capital and ideas to go and redevelop. that's a lot of stuff to take on. >> it is. undoubtedly. >> i think it's a big problem. in my classes, what i see is people who are really trained to think about the city, detroit, and outside detroit, the suburbs. so i confuse them when i say where i live which is ann arbor because it is a city but it is not a suburb. i think you have to retrain people to think about not living in a segregated environment. this is -- michigan state is not a segregated environment and they have to get used to that. people are so accustomed to living in a place that looks like my home state of georgia did 40 years ago or 50 years ago. so i think that we really have
an issue there and it's an ongoing one and it's not just in detroit. >> i can't let that go because i wrote a little couple things down in the "wall street journal." look, number one, do not miss the point. it used to be the most segregated city, area, in the united states. it's not like that anymore. black middle class and white middle class live together in the detroit metropolitan region. what you have is a sore of poverty. that's a fact. two, eight mile is a conflict from a long time ago. we're talking money. we're talking money. >> what happens when you integrate? this is a point you often make and it bears repeating here. once we integrate, suddenly there's no public infrastructure. >> this is 1969. this is 2013. >> yet those public processes continue to exist that way. >> there's no white flight anymore. >> but this is -- >> there's no place to run. >> this is integration by disintegration. suddenly we have integration by
dint of the fact everybody left and the only people left are those that can't get out. [ speaking simultaneously ] >> once that happens, so the lovely part of that story, we want to tell the story of on the one hand some of the block busting that occurs when black and brown families move in. when white families move in, we want to say that's the return of these cities, then we end up with a gentrification problem. >> it's not a problem to bring money into a community. >> it is a problem. >> we're not talking about the suburbs of detroit which have emergency financial managers. al l allen park, which is white, is broke. roseville, warren. southfield. it's not a race -- don't make it so much about race. it's green. it's green. yeah, whites ran away and there's no place to run anymore. >> what i'm saying is one of the things we learned is that green and black are often connected in
ways that you can't simply remove -- >> don't forget to say the good things about this country and black and white relations. we're doing okay. we're doing okay. >> sure, we're doing okay -- >> we're not great. it's not heaven. >> comparatively. i think it's a bit like saying once you're halfway through a race, great, then give up. >> no, i didn't say that. >> we are doing better in some important ways. >> tell them that. they're all watching you. we're doing okay. >> we're doing what we're doing, and suggesting sort of platitudes about we're doing okay doesn't get us to a policy prescription and discussion about how race does, in fact, affect the economic decisions that are made. >> -- didn't want to sit in the back of the bus, the bus service was better across the southern united states -- >> than it is now. >> i want to say thanks to charlie. the rest are back later on the program. up next, i want you to grab your passports. we've got a fun fact. the u.s. passport contains 13 inspirational quotes, only one from a woman. alright, bring the model in on the set!
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hey do you wanna get a drink later? [ male announcer ] hold packages at any fedex office location. do you have a u.s. passport? if so, pull it out, take a moment, look at pages 26 and 27. there you will find an image of the statue of liberty and you will find these words written across the top. the cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party or a class. it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity. any guess on the author of these words? jefferson, kennedy? nope. this is the one and only quote in the u.s. passport that belongs to a woman. they are the words of anna julia cooper, born into slavery in north carolina in 1858, cooper lived 105 years, passing away just months before the 1964 civil rights act was signed into law. during her century of scholarship and activism, cooper
became a visionary political theorist, activist, orator, educator and human rights advocate. in 1925 she became the first black woman to earn a ph.d. at the sorbonne in paris. cooper is author of "voice from the south, a foundational text of black feminism" where she argues only the black woman can say when and where i enter, in the quiet undisputed dignity of my womanhood without violence and without suing or special patronage. then and there the whole negro race enters with me. she described her vocation as the education of neglected people. she fought to ensure access for her students but her success was received with hostility rather than celebration from a power structure that was not necessarily interested in the advancement of black youth. my guest this morning is allison stewart. she writes extensively about cooper in her new book, "first class, the legacy of dunbar, america's first black public high school." so nice to have you here.
>> it is nice to be with you. >> talk to me about cooper as an educator and what she was trying to do. >> one of her favorite proverbs was where there is no vision, the people perish. so her sense of vision was as you said, the neglected and in her mind, it was the whole negro race but women specifically. a lot of times people would ask her well, what about the boys. she would say not the boys less, the girls more. it was from her own personal experience, as you mentioned. born into slavery, went to school, became a teacher, married at 19, widowed at 21. so as a 21-year-old, what did she decide to do? not stay and teach grammar school which is an excellent profession, but she decided she wanted to go to college. that was radical. >> can you imagine being born into slavery and then having the audacity of self to say no, i'm going not only to college but to graduate school, and then to become a leader, an education leader. >> she had to fight her whole way through, had to get fight to get people to recommend her to go to overland. she whizzed through the classes
allowed for women, had to let her take greek, math, latin, all of which she aced. one of her biggest issues was secondary education for african-american, for colored boys and girls. that's how she ended up the principal of m street, the predecessor to dunbar, this book. it was a powerhouse school, produced some of the greatest african-american scholars of the 21st century. she was the principal and refused to let the power structure there roll back the curriculum. >> which they wanted to do because they had this vocational perspective, right? it was this okay, what we need to teach these young colored kids to do is to get these sort of narrow set of jobs and she says no, we must educate their whole selves and their minds. >> absolutely. she said we are educating not men and women, we are educating the race. at one point they wanted her to trade in shakespeare for treasure island. she called it the wearing that handkerchief moment of othello. lend me thine handkerchief that you've given me, desdemona.
and she says there are people here wearing that handkerchief. that's all you could understand. >> so she lives 105 years. >> can you imagine what she experienced in her life? >> to go from slavery to the civil rights movement, to live just before the '64 civil rights act. she's not just parochial. her world is not just the u.s. she also is an international woman. >> that was interesting. she was a high school teacher and principal and spoke at the pan-african conference. it was interesting, there aren't melissa harris-perrys or nprs where people got the word out and talked about intellectual thoughts. what they did, they went on long speaking tours and she would publish papers and speak at conferences just to get this message out that we must put the african race forward, the african-american race forward through education. >> and let's talk just momentarily also about the fact that for her, it was the race but also at the intersection of gender. she is really our black feminist
foremother, the one who says you can't talk just race, if you ignore the ways that gender cross-cuts it. >> she also would not back down in any way. often, debois would quote her and not give her credit, which is interesting. she had that sort of strength and would not back down to the detriment of her career. she was run out of her job for not backing down. her job as principal, for not backing down. >> i love that you brought up the point about debois who many of us know sort of the contributions, we have been silent about the contributions of anna julia cooper. thank you for bringing her back to us in your new text. if you would like to learn more about anna julia cooper, in my day job, the thing i do during the week, i am the director of anna julia cooper project on gender, race and politics in the south at tulane university. learn more about cooper at cooperproject.org. coming up, wawa, apple pie
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it was one of those weeks in congress again. the house stood in recess meaning nothing could get done. last week, the senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of the violence against women act reauthorization. they voted 78-22. yep, 78 means this bill has bipartisan support in the senate. over in the house, we continue to wait, even as reports surfaced this week saying that some republicans are pushing to get a bill of their own passed soon. that is, assuming they can get their own members on board. which is why my letter this week goes out to one of the most vocal holdouts, republican congressman john duncan of tennessee. better known as jimmy. dear congressman duncan, it's
me, melissa. this week, you were really on a metaphorical rampage with this lovely little insight about your resistance to the violence against women act. you said every bill is given a motherhood and apple pie title but if you voted based on the title, you would vote for every bill up here. okay, jimmy. you sort of have a point there. there have been a lot of destructive legislative actions that are given deceptively friendly names. no child left behind. of course, no one wants to leave a kid behind but we should totally have left that law behind. or the defense of marriage act. it's pretty clear it doesn't defend anything but inequality. and then there's the patriot act. yeah. right. okay, the titles all sound good but that's before you read the fine print. so jimmy, that's just not the case with the violence against women act. it's not just a bill with a good name. it's a good bill. this legislation has been
reauthorized twice with consistent bipartisan support. even you have voted for it twice. it's a good thing, because it's partly responsible for a 67% decline in the rate of intimate partner violence. but even if you can get past the name issue, congressman, you said your main concern was cost. oh, yeah, the republicans' favorite red herring for shredding the social safety net. it all costs too much except that argument doesn't hold up, jimmy. the new bill will cost $659 million over five years. but that's a decrease in cost since 2005. even though the bill offers more protections and isn't that what you business-savvy folks like best? doing more with less? so it's not the name and it's not really the cost. maybe your reluctance lies in this other bizarre point you made this week. you said like most men, i'm more opposed to violence against women than even violence against men, because most men can handle it a little better than a lot of
women can. say what? you are all for this bill when it protected a narrow slice of victims, but now you're not so sure. i don't really know what to make of that, but maybe it's because the new senate version expands protection for men and women in same sex relationships. is it that lesbians and gay men can just take a punch better than straight women? or maybe you've decided that native american women are particularly good at handling intimate violence, because you and other house republicans still refuse to support a bill that gives tribal authorities the ability to prosecute those who commit acts of violence on tribal lands. maybe your refusal to reauthorize the bill is actually based on a belief that when some people are abused, it's just not a big deal because they can handle it. well, jimmy, every year 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner in the united states and while you're over there making excuses, these
human beings are left without meaningful and effective protections that this bill offers. so how about getting over yourself and getting on board. it's time to reauthorize the bill with both a good name and good effects. we are not buying your lies and lines any longer. sincerely, melissa. when we come back, the state of the american man and why kevin bacon may be the best actor to play the movie version of president obama. [ male announcer ] zzzquil™ sleep-aid. it's not for colds. it's not for pain. it's just for sleep. because sleep is a beautiful thing™. ♪ zzzquil™. the non-habit forming sleep-aid from the makers of nyquil®. omnipotent of opportunity. you know how to mix business... with business. and you...rent from national. because only national lets you choose any car in the aisle. and go.
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common side effects include nausea, trouble sleeping and unusual dreams. with chantix and with the support system it worked. it worked for me. [ male announcer ] ask your doctor if chantix is right for you. welcome back. i'm melissa harris-perry. there's not much good to be said about congress' inability to get it together and reauthorize the violence against women act except the spotlight on the opposition to the bill has amplified the reasons why there is such a pressing need for it in the first place. reasons like one in three women who will be assaulted, beaten or raped in her lifetime.
reasons like the nine second interval that separates a woman who was just assaulted from another woman who is about to be. reasons like the 1.3 million women who are victims of intimate partner violence every year. these are some of the facts we can't help but see while all of our eyes are on the bill. still, right in the middle of the big statistics is a big old elephant that we just avoid all together. notice the language we use to discuss violence against women, women who are assaulted, women who are survivors, women who get raped. moving the needle in a meaningful way on the issue of violence against women requires that we face head-on the invisible subject in all of those examples. men. more specifically, understanding of american masculinity that seems to go hand in hand with violence. yes, men are victimized by violence, too, and yes, women are sometimes the perpetrators of violence against other women or against men. but the vast majority of men, of
course, do not commit violence. and yet the vast majority of violence is committed by men. not only against women, but also against other men and also against themselves, because men are overwhelmingly more likely than women to commit suicide. so when women are assaulted, we respond to that violence with laws to support them. or advice for women on how not to get attacked but our response when men are aggressors is much simpler. well, boys will be boys. maybe it's time to redefine what it means to be a boy, or more importantly, what it means to be a man. joining me now is rich benjamin, social commentator and author of "searching for whitetopia." also, peter goodman, executive business editor of the "washington post." jamele hill and roman won a super bowl title with the tampa
bay buccaneers, a sports reporter and analyst. lovely to have you at the table. i want to start by -- this is not an all men are violent segment. it is, though, what happens if instead of telling the story through women who are the victims, we tell the story through men who are the perpetrators. would that shift our discourse so that we start looking at men as the basis of solution to the violence against women? >> i think we probably have to redefine how we look at masculinity. you spoke about the violence. as an athlete when something bad happens, there they go, they can't shut it off, they get off the field and continue to perpetrate the violence but it happens to everybody, whether you've lost your job, whether you've been affected negatively in any part of society. we just have to redefine how we look at masculinity, i think. i can probably beat everyone here in arm wrestling contest. >> yes. you would beat me in an arm wrestling contest. i'll give you that. >> your ability to care, be compassionate, listen, put yourself in someone else's position, that's what defines
masculinity as well. >> you bring up a good point. one of the problems i think that especially in sport is that they make being a man anti-woman. by that i mean you say stuff like oh, you throw like a girl. just this week, darrelle revis, his first insult to richard sherman was you're running your mouth like a little girl. so when you have language like that that's coded deeply in sports, where masculinity is defined a lot, then it sort of imbeds it in their mind that in order for me to be who i need to be, i need to be anti-this. >> so sports is one space of it but it's not exclusively there. because otherwise it becomes just a problem of athletes. we were looking at the bushmaster ad. this is a bushmaster ad that says consider your man card reissued. it's an advertisement for a gun, right? >> i was just about to go there. it's a horrible irony that the house republicans are also
refusing to pass gun laws, even as they refuse to pass this element of the violence against women act, and when guns are involved, women are seven times more likely to die in assaults against them. it's not just about who's perpetrating the violence in terms of men. guns are also an issue like you pointed out. >> well, guns, though, become this expression and extension of what constitutes manhood. so they end up being connected in a way that we say a man is a person who can, for example, wield a gun to protect his family, and yet we know that the gun in the home is more likely to be used against someone in the family than against an intruder. >> i do think will are hopeful signs in the culture. to get back to roman's point, traditionally when we talk about masculinity, we're talking about strength, projecting strength, protecting yourself and other people, supporting other people. these are malleable concepts. i look around my neighborhood where suddenly every guy seems to be walking around with a baby in a carriage.
maybe like ten years ago, there would have been a sense of maybe i'm a little embarrassed. now, i'm proud, i'm not going to have her carrying this baby. i'm carrying this baby. >> you've seen commercials about that where it's being celebrated, a guy with a baby carriage. >> right. >> louis c.k., hardly a model, comedian for masculinity in the traditional sense, nonetheless in a kind of macho way has talked about you're not a real man if you're not parenting. he's saying that -- he's questioning your manhood if you're not there supporting, if you're not changing diapers and waking up in the middle of the night and feeding. so this stuff can be changed. >> it's interesting. i wonder if there's a class piece there. it seems to me we've defined manhood for working class men, sometimes differently than we have for middle class men. middle class men, what makes you manly is your earning capacity. it's the fact that you can be there and could have -- a lot of kids is a status symbol in a recession. it means you can afford things that other people can't afford.
but often for poor men, we have suggested since you can't make a lot of money, what you're going to have to do is man up and manning up, if you can't write the big check, manning up becomes the aggression, right? >> certainly at the lower end of the economic spectrum, the economic consequences have hit men much harder. we know it in terms of construction jobs lost, manufacturing jobs lost. there's a lot of stress out there, lot of anxiety and a lot of undermining of traditional manhood in terms of your ability to support a family. >> i'm going to add, it's not only one's ideals of manliness and manhood, it's what's imposed upon you in society. i happened to be in wyoming three months ago and i was talking a lot with a closeted oil rig worker, so his ideals of masculinity that you're talking about in terms of class, it's not just what we think of masculinity and your carriage toting fathers, it's the ideals imposed on different people and it matters differently in how it expresses itself. >> also, i wonder, if there is
something that was affecting women that was 70%, 80% of women were getting cancer, we would say okay, boy, we need to address what these women's lives are like. when we look at mass murderers, when we look at violence perpetrated in the home, the vast majority of perpetrators are men but we tend to talk about it as women, women who are victims, women who need to make different kind of choices. is this a kind of disease impacting men that we've got to be able to unpack that thing that is manhood in order to be able to address? >> in order for you to flip the script and look at men, that means the men that are sort of behind and in powerful positions have to take a look at themselves. i will use the nfl as an example. we all know they do a lot with breast cancer awareness. we just saw a recent tragedy with javon belcher, the kansas city chief who committed the murder-suicide. there have been scores of domestic violence advocates that
have been imploring the nfl to get involved and do a domestic violence awareness month but they won't do that, because granted, this is my theory, is that that would force them to look at their players, look at themselves and really address some root issues. and i think that's why it's been changed to be much like racism, where all of a sudden, the people who are impacted by racism, african-americans, latinos, it's our responsibility to solve the problem. it's like but we didn't create it. >> but i will say, we are complicit in it, right? these definitions of manhood are not just what men -- we like this, right? it's a circumstance where the response of women not only to heterosexual relationships but in friendships, in television, what counts as a real man is still this relatively narrow definition. >> there is always going to be this backlash from traditionalists that says are we
feminising athletes too much. as long as we look from both sides, at least we're progressing. it's not where it used to be. >> i wonder if there's something new about how we raise sons that impacts this. now that we are -- i know you are raising a son. is there now a new narrative that we tell to our boys about the possibilities of what manhood might look like? >> well, i think when your sons see you showing up after school or going to school events and doing things, going back to that traditionalist view that used to be what the moms did and we're not at the stage where come home, read the paper, watch the news, go to bed and the wife does everything. both parents are equally involved in that process. so children now are growing up and seeing their parents, seeing dad and mom do everything, seeing them both have really the same role, and it goes back to things financially, how things are being affected financially. what's more valuable, your time. if we can't go on vacation once a month and do the things we used to do before 2007 as a man,
i can still lead by showing the value of my time to my children. >> you brought up a great point earlier. i think it's important, too, that men shows boys compassion and empathy, that they show that those traits that are associated with being women, that it's okay as a man to do that. i feel sorry for men because nowhere in this society does it tell you that it's okay to express emotion, to cry. we hear that all the time in the sporting circles about any man that cries, you need to suck it up or you need to just accept this behavior. men, unfortunately, bear the brunt of that. it teaches them to be emotionally closed. >> when we come back, we'll talk about the fact that right now in indianapolis, they are actually taking the measure of a man. i also want to talk about james bond more when we get back. ♪ [ slap! ] [ slap! slap! slap! slap! ] ow! ow! [ male announcer ] your favorite foods fighting you? fight back fast with tums.
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this week, the national football league is looking for a few good men. on wednesday, the league kicked off its very own version of a beauty pageant, otherwise known as the 2013 scouting combine. more than 300 of college football's best players descended upon indianapolis to showcase their assets and skills before scouts, coaches and managers, all of them hoping to secure a spot on draft day in april and launch a career playing in the pros. there's a swimsuit contest which in the combine means players stripping down to their skivvies to have their physiques evaluated, poked and prodded. there's the interview which gives the team officials and media a chance to know the players and they will undergo medical testing and psychological evaluations. in the talent portion of the combine, they will run, jump, drill, shuttle and dash hoping to get good numbers from the judges. this is how the nfl, a platform
for one of our culture's most visible displays of masculinity, takes the measure of their men. only lately, we have seen a handful of players recalibrating the metrics of what makes a man. pro ballers speaking out for marriage equality are offering their own measurement of manhood and it's not in inches or yards, but the length to which a man is willing to stick out his neck for somebody else. so as you already know, nerdland, i love football but there is something in this moment that is so like literally, we can measure a man and his value by what size he is, width of his arms and quickness of his 40. >> i think as you note from the combines, measuring these guys and the jumping and all these tests, you have to have a comparison so this running back is an adrian peterson type because of this. this body type, his body percentage, so all those things are because of the comparison. i remember a day when i came out in '96, you had to strip down with no shirt and stand in line
almost like cattle, and they got rid of that because there were some other issues to doing that. >> like it looks like slavery? >> exactly. >> okay. i'm with you. i'm with you. >> visually for some of the women watching, seeing the shirts and watching them run the 40 yard dashes but it's all comparison to the year before. >> the irony of when i watch the combine, which now has become a huge ratings success that people watch just, i don't know why, but whatever, is that sort -- >> because nfl players are walking around in their skivvies. what do you mean, you don't know why? >> it's not just that. guys like to watch it, too, they want to see how fast somebody is and feel like with their untrained eye they can spot a superstar. but it sort of put men in the category of knowing almost what we go through which is being objectified a lot and they are put on display for just physicality purpose. i know they go, you know, mental
evaluations -- >> it's horses walking around the track. >> they understand a little now. >> but pop culture is part of where these definitions of manhood show up. so i am a james bond fan. i come to it through my husband, who is a big james bond watcher. this bond is interesting because he's not impervious anymore. he's still wealthy and violent but he gets hurt, he gets injured, he seems to have emotions although he will still let a woman be shot, you know. but i wonder if even as we see like the new batman, the new bond, if we're starting to see some space for a more vulnerable version of manhood. >> yeah. absolutely. because these, when you look at the dark knight, you see examples of depression, you see them explain their emotional vulnerability, their inner lives. i think that's what's going on there, is that you're not -- it's not just physical challenges that they're meeting. you're bringing in the emotional challenges for men today. >> the way we know that they win
isn't because they have some great emotional moment, right, it's because they ultimately get their gun and shoot everybody in the room, right? >> i think to pull back to what you were saying when we came into this segment, you look at for instance the reaction to gay bashing in professional sports. this is really pretty interesting. when magic johnson came out and told us that he was hiv positive, and he was asked are you gay and of course not, you know, absolutely not and everyone sort of laughed. now, i actually think there has been a reconfiguration of traditional masculinity, again, getting back to this point, traditional masculinity is supposed to be about strength and home ohomeophobia weighs in insecurity, almost. like weakness. like your inability to reckon with the reality that there's all kinds of and we're all mixed together and people have their proclivities and that's natural. >> does that then basically falsify my hypothesis? definitions of masculinity are
part of why we see this violence on the part of men towards women and other men and ultimately towards themselves and we have seen a reconfiguring of masculinity, then have i simply got it wrong and in fact, whatever it is that's causing the violence is not that, is not about men? >> well, don't go giving up already. while i do think it's changing, it is to some degree at a glacial pace. if you watch -- >> have you seen how fast the glaciers are melting? >> well, if you look at the nba, for example, while it was progress in the sense that last year, when they fined kobe bryant $100,000 for the homophobic slur he said during the game which is something that would never happen because you're on tv and it happened, well, that indicates a level of progress. the fact is, you tune into a game on any given night in the nba, you still hear that word quite a bit. in locker room culture, we're all still waiting for this moment of when we're going to
have an athlete that comes out while still playing and i just don't think we're there yet. we're getting closer but locker room culture is still very masculine, still very closed, and any athlete will admit to you they have played with gay players but they do not want them to come out, they don't want it in their face. they want everything to kind of remain as is, almost like the military. >> for me it goes back to the word that you don't want as a coach, general manager, player. you don't want a locker room distraction. we saw plaxico burress shoot himself defending super bowl champion giants, it ruined their season. they were 11-1 and went south after that incident. imagine if a player comes out of the closet, a team that's 11-1, what does that do to the locker room? there is always this fear about the locker room chemistry. not so much the lifestyle choice or the sexual preference choice but what it does to the chemistry of the locker room. >> and the fear of how the team will be perceived. >> exactly. >> go ahead. >> that's a weird contradiction. you do feel and see that in the locker room chemistry but you
also feel this fraternal male bonding where people look out for each other and sometimes, i feel that bonding of looking out, blood is thicker than water, can trump homophobia so some gay players may be out to their teammates but not necessarily to the public. >> we are going to stay on exactly that. we had a player just recently who did something that we want to just take note of. thanks to my guests. peter will stay with us. up next, the nba star who gave us a favorite play of the day. copd makes it hard to breathe, but with advair, i'm breathing better. so now i can be in the scene. advair is clinically proven to help significantly improve lung function. unlike most copd medications, advair contains both an anti-inflammatory and a long-acting bronchodilator working together to help improve your lung function all day. advair won't replace fast-acting inhalers
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first he wowed the crowd at friday's rising stars challenge. he went hard in the paint with 40 points and 10 rebounds and earned himself the mvp title. then he wowed the all-star audience again with moves like the between the legs moment in the slam dunk contest. and he had already wowed the fans in denver with his energetic and relentless game that reinvigorated the nuggets' offense last season. so there is always room in nerdland for jocks. so of course we're cheering him on. but kenneth fareed really wowed us when he did this. >> hello. i'm kenneth fareed, the mom to my right is mahasin and the mom to my left is my birth mother. basically, i support civil union. they do, too, because they're married. i hope they will. but i really do support civil union because of the fact that
it gives people, gays and lesbians, the right to make decisions on their own if they want to get married and let them choose who they want to be with. >> that's kenneth on the couch with his two moms. saying something very simple. he supports marriage equality. a majority of americans agree with him. so one more voice in a chorus of support that may not seem like much, until you think about what kenneth does for a living and suddenly a simple statement becomes a courageous act. do you remember how michael jordan famously quipped republicans buy shoes, too? it was a note of caution warning against the consequences of pro ballers who take public political positions. so we are glad in this case, ken, that you decided not to be like mike. up next, the sequester and kevin bacon? how a scene from "footloose" puts it all in perspective.
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♪ back to you. stick with us because we get it. the fiscal cliff or the debt deal standoff and now called the sequester, it's a little boring. tedious. despite the sequester leading newscasts and filling front pages for weeks, a lot of you want to sit this one out. in fact, the pew research center and "usa today" did a survey and found that almost 30% of americans haven't even heard anything about it and only 27% admit to hearing a lot about the sequester. okay. i get it. but these self-inflicted automatic spending cuts are once again just around the corner, and are set to slash $85 billion over the seven months left in this fiscal year. that means millions of layoffs and furloughs for americans across the country and big cuts in spending on things like education and health care.
we really can't sit this one out. it is too important. so this is our nerdland attempt to make the politics behind the sequester both understandable and if at all possible, fun. president obama is kevin bacon. in the cult classic "footloose." if you remember the film, you will recall kevin bacon's character shakes up a small rural town when he moves to it with his mom and starts dancing. he's dared into a game of chicken, racing tractors with the town bully. ♪ >> it's a tractor race. it goes on for awhile. so republicans in congress and the president agree to their game of chicken back in 2011 when they couldn't settle a fight over raising the country's debt limit. they avoided that game of chicken with the budget control act which had a bunch of crazy cuts that no one would want and as both parties would be forced to compromise but now their
respective tractors are heading smack, more slowly, to one another again. if no one swerves off the road, bam, billions of dollars will be slashed from the federal budget and subsequently local budgets over the next ten years. so here's why president obama is kevin bacon. the president wants to act rationally and avoid the cuts all together, just like the city slicker character in "footloose" bacon doesn't even know what he's doing on a tractor and definitely doesn't want to crash into another one but neither of them can do anything about it because they are literally and proverbially tied down. remember the shoelace? ♪ >> aahhh! president obama wants to get out of the way of the sequester cuts
and see them replaced with a combination of increased tax revenue and spending cuts, but he is tied down to the congress by the shoelace. these automatic spending cuts are just six degrees of sequestration away from kevin bacon and the only difference is that all of us are hitched on to the back of the tractors with them. with me, carmen ulrich, peter goodman and lisa cook. okay. >> kevin wins. hello. kevin wins. >> that's why he's president obama. >> we have a role when we write scripts. if we ever do a "batman" metaphor, the president is always batman. never robin. >> it's called kick the can. that's the game that's probably -- that's the one that eventually intervenes and we end up back in the same spot. >> you don't think they will
come to a solution this time, they will just kick it further down the road? >> i think they are both too dug in. they will figure some way to cancel the sequester because it is such an idiotic idea that the people that are paying attention understand we all suffer. >> these policy decisions, even if they're not taken, have real consequences. a corporation in lancing, an auto supplier for the personnel carrier has laid off 90 people. already. announced this on monday. it has 300 employees. this is real stuff. they are not playing chicken with themselves. they are playing it with the economy. this economy is still healing. this is one of the greatest tragedies and small businesses are the canary in the coal mine. they are the ones that start shedding workers. this gallup poll showed that small businesses are shedding workers more than they are hiring back workers. they are taking this into account. we cannot afford to have this manufactured crisis and a double dip or triple dip recession. >> most of americans may not be
watching but the ones that run the economy are. >> this is the thing. you bring up a really good point. what i'm most concerned about here is that you cry wolf many times and the public and the business industry goes yawn, but that's not exactly what's happening. i equate it bring it back to the household equation. mom and dad are fighting, say dad's the gop and he says we've got to keep cutting the budget. there's no more meat on that chicken bone. mom is saying we need to make more money, we need to get another job, increase taxes, and they are both fighting. what does everyone else do, the people they are supposed to be taking care of? we hunker down, businesses start saying i'm not going to hire people, i will continue to sit on cash, i will continue cutting. consumers are going to say we're not going to spend, we're not going anywhere, not taking any risks. banks are not going to lend. there's an overall sentiment problem that when the people in charge are freaking out, everybody is going to be nervous because even though you don't necessarily feel it or see it or understand it, we know things are bad. >> the president this week made exactly this point about why
can't we get more revenue in this game. he was talking with reverend al sharpton on reverend sharpton's radio show. let's take a listen. >> their basic view is that nothing is important enough to raise taxes on wealthy individuals or corporations, and they would prefer to see these kinds of cuts that could slow down our recovery over closing tax loopholes and that's the thing that binds their party together at this point. >> yeah. absolutely. >> the problem is that the republican brand is now tied up in this idea that government's the problem, taxation is the problem, we need to take this moment, we need to eliminate government services, we need to give the money back to the private sector. this old move that's been debunked by history many times over. but it's all they got. the alternative is well, okay,
let's have something more balanced, let's come up with revenue, let's deal with economic inequality, and ideally actually stimulate the economy which is something we're not even discussing. the benefits of that, the republicans fear, would flow to the party that now controls the white house. so they're going back to the same move that by the way, did not play very well for them in the last election, but it's the only move they've got. we'll monkey wrench the economy, we'll pander to people who like tax cuts and then stick the white house with the blame when we go back into a recession. >> you don't have to look at history. we just have to look over to europe. germany is the engine of growth in the eurozone. germa germany shrank by 0.6%. >> they have a social safety net we can only dream of. >> and they are the engine pulling that part of the eurozone and the part of the world economy. so all of these cards are going to start falling. we have to take everything seriously. that's why i'm saying this is
not at all a laughing matter in the sense that we really are talking about jobs, talking about economic activity and talking about manufactured crises. we need to stop manufacturing crises. small businesses have to take this seriously. they employ over half the people in the economy and they are shedding workers. >> the reason why the deficit is a crises for this party and for wealthy americans is because when the deficit gets too high, the value of investments goes down. how do they make money? by investing. so they're worried about their paychecks getting cut while the rest of america is literally going to have paychecks getting cut. >> because these jobs disappear in part, whether we actually go over the fiscal cliff or around the fiscal cliff or bump into each other in this game of chicken, the politics itself becomes enough of a catastrophe to create this circumstance in the economy. >> absolutely. this is what happened with the downgrade. remember a year and a half ago, we look back on the data and saw a big dip in economic activity. these are real costs.
they're not just paper costs. they're not just financial costs. they are human costs. we are losing human time. >> if you were running a business in virginia today, where there is an outsized dependence upon federal checks that will be cut if we hit the sequester and you're trying to figure out should i hire a few more people, whatever your business is, whether it's a bakery, dry cleaner, am i going to market my business. no. you will wait because you're nervous that serious spending power is about to be taken out of the economy. >> because we know people aren't paying that much attention to the sequester, i want to remind them why virginia would be particularly hurt. because of how much defense spending gets cut. when we look at the cuts, we see the vulnerability of defense spending in particular which will have an enormous set of cuts and that of course, there's those who think good, cut the military, but that's actually growth potential. >> these cuts are also willy-nilly. these are just cuts, period. >> they hit schools, they hit social services. >> breast cancer screening.
senior nutrition. >> what's really interesting is that now you see a lot of talk about the faa cuts. why? because what do, in terms of all these cuts, how do you make these cuts human for this class of people? you say your plane's going to be late. that's what you do. they are going to be caring about oh, my gosh, that means new york will be shut down after 11:00, we can't get to where we need to go. that's a really serious problem. >> we're going to take a quick break and come back on that. how do you make it human. tell them they are going to be inconvenienced. so great. how the sequester threatens the most vulnerable. switch to swiffer wetjet, and you'll dump your old mop. but don't worry, he'll find someone else. ♪ who's that lady? ♪ who's that lady? ♪ sexy lady ♪ who's that lady? [ female announcer ] used mops can grow bacteria. swiffer wetjet starts with a clean pad every time, and its antibacterial cleaner kills bacteria mops can spread around.
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for our states, and that to more than $1 billion in cuts for special education. on the state level, food assistance would also come under the knife. nearly $550 million would be taken away from a nutritional supplementation program for women and children. that accounts for a few of the billions of dollars in cuts expected to happen in a mere five days. we started by talking about detroit. two hours ago we were like okay, detroit is in a crisis and now we're looking at a federally, as you point out, manufactured crisis that if you're in detroit you're thinking how can we begin to manage this. >> how much worse can it get. detroit was in a recession before the country was in a recession. detroit has basically not ever been out of a recession in the time in which those of us at the table have been paying attention to economic reality. and now we're going to take more spending power out -- >> just at a time when the labor market's getting a little better, there are some manufacturing jobs coming back. now we're going to hammer them
with something new? >> 40% of the state budget comes from the federal government. so michigan isn't unusual in that regard and it was higher when the stimulus was going out, during the recession. so this is going to be one type of hit. the other type of hit is going to be the fact that auto suppliers are a big part of the u.s. economy, big part of the michigan economy, the ohio economy, midwest economy, and they learned to diversify during the crisis. so they are just getting back started. they're just getting back to health. what are we going to do now? we'll yank the carpet out from under them. >> fema, too. if we're looking at these cuts on the state level and we have sandy and we have all of these things happening when a state gets hit, then what? >> it's interesting, this language of the economy just starting to heal, just coming back together, just coming -- just recovering after a disaster. it does feel like here we have a patient who we've nurtured back to sort of minimal health but instead of kind of continuing to nurture that, providing more medication, we're like well, good luck with that, i'm taking your walker and meds.
>> before they got cancer, they had a weight problem. now we have taken care of the tumor and now we will staple their stomach, threaten to chop their tongue off if they don't agree to go on some crazy fad diet. this is insane. we don't have a fiscal crisis. we have a political crisis. >> this is why it's not going to happen. i really do not believe these cuts are going to happen. which is why this whole idea of chicken, why kevin's still on the truck, because it really would be that bad and the majority of americans when they are polled this week's pew research trust came out with the poll, wide majority of americans, almost 80%, when you look at individual cuts, nobody agrees with it. nobody agrees with it. >> they favor the balanced approach. >> the gop will be blamed if this happens and the majority of americans will blame them for it. they know that's what they're behind. >> on the one hand it's ordinary folks who are undoubtedly going to take this as the hardest hit but when we look at the fact that so much defense spending is going to get cut, i think this is part of the politics that is
surprising to me here. you look at more than $40 billion in spending, the sequester is going to create wage cuts to armed forces, down billions of dollars in the army, navy and air force. aren't they the defenders of the -- >> the republicans are now the victims of the gerrymandering that allowed them to hold on to the house because the people that are still there have to answer to these pockets of idealogical extremism they have created. the worst thing they can do is say yeah, we decided to go ahead and raise a little more revenue. they have to hold on and say government's the problem. that's all they got. >> right. >> they can't solve our economic problems. that's not why they were sent here. >> right. where this happened, the federal budget has grown in michigan because we have been in recession for a decade. this is when you want government to kick in. >> yes. >> this is what it's supposed to be doing. why would you cut it back now? and what the government isn't
saying is let's run the economy. the federal government is just saying we can support you while you are getting on your feet, private sector. we've had 34 months of private sector growth. why reverse that? why reverse that? >> the only people shedding jobs at this point are the public sector. >> exactly. >> it's because of austerity measures. >> it's all about ideology and belief systems here. the thing is that we see the president is really talking about numbers and budgets and what we see is let's take medicare, for example. he's saying let's eliminate waste, let's change some of the premium payments. but instead, the other side is saying why don't we just give people a check and they can buy their own medicare. are you insane? self-directed care would be an absolute disaster. it's like the 401(k) plan. >> how many more crises can we manage? more in just a moment. first, time for a preview of "weekend with alex witt". a new report today on what's next for oscar pistorius.
it has nothing to do with the courtroom or jail, by the way. the dramatic about-face some republican governors are doing on the president's health care act. is it motivated by politics or policy? a panda's story, not cute and cuddly but a real concern on why so much money is spent on saving the endangered animal. some outcry on that. in office politics, former new york mayor david dinkins offer his theory on why republicans are against president obama's efforts in office. pretty interesting. back to you. >> you just showed that coverage of the panda bears during the whole show, that was the cutest thing. >> i know. that's the thing. there's a bunch of people out there who really don't want to spend money on saving them. >> but look at them! >> so cute. how could you not? >> panda bears. the sequester cuts better not impact them. thanks, alex. up next, the oscar sleeper with a very special kind of buzz. [ rosa ] i'm rosa and i quit smoking with chantix. when the doctor told me that i could smoke for the first week... i'm like...yeah, ok... little did i know
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academy awards ceremony. there was so much to talk about this year in film. "lincoln" ""zero dark thirty"" ja jang owe unchanged. "mondays at racine" our food foot soldiers are featured in the film. two sisters from long island, new york have been operating racine's salon and spa for the past 16 years. a lot of ways racine is a traditional salon. in addition to hair services the sisters offer mani-pedis, massages, facial makeup. on the third monday of every month, the sisters offer all of these services free of charge to women who are cancer patients. on mondays at racine they even offer head shaving, done with care and sensitivity. more importantly, cynthia and rachel provide a space for women struggling with cancer to bond with other women who understand
what they're going through. >> now that i've cut it this much, i think i'm actually ready to buzz it, yeah. >> do you want me to call anybody just to sit and talk to you while you do it? >> yeah. yeah, sure. okay. >> do you want to sit on my lap? >> you can sit in her lap. you have boosters, too. >> hi, love. this is a good thing. >> the idea came to cynthia ten years ago when she was thinking back on her mother mildred who died of breast cancer in 1989. cynthia remembers people whispering when her mother's hair started falling out, and how her mother's salon had no idea how to help her. people she felt were afraid of the sick. but as salon owner cynthia and rachel decided they have the perfect avenue to help women in their community facial these side effects of cancer treatments they learned about what types of services they
could provide safely. they started small, three or four women a month. now their efforts include 20 women a month. this is a purely volunteer operation. no money changes hands. hair dressers, massage therapists, facial and nail technicians all donate their time. the sisters believe that they're the ones who get the most out of it. cynthia told us in an interview this week, we receive the thrust of heart-warming. we give out effortlessly. because it's just what you do. maybe that's the way our mother taught us. maybe it's just something you do. you don't have to think about it, and it's not laborious. the sisters hope that the publicity from the film's oscar nomination will inspire other salons to get involved. and that medical communities will think more holistically about the lives of cancer patients. and for that, cynthia and rachel are our foot soldiers of the week. the oscar nominated film "mondays at racine" will premiere on hbo later this year. to read more about the fabulous foot soldier sisters please
visit our web site, mhpshow.com. that is our show today. thanks to our panel for sticking around. thanks to you all for watching. i'll see you tomorrow morning 10:00 a.m. eastern. we're going to dive deep into the constitution with my court of panel legal experts. coming up, "weekends with alex witt" with pandas! tweets. so, beginning today, my son brock and his whole team will be our new senior social media strategists. any questions? since we make radiator valves wouldn't it be better if we just let fedex help us to expand to new markets? hmm gotta admit that's better than a few "likes." i don't have the door code. who's that? he won a contest online to be ceo for the day. how am i supposed to run a business here without an office?! [ male announcer ] fast, reliable deliveries worldwide. fedex. by the armful? by the barrelful? the carful? how about...by the bowlful? campbell's soups give you nutrition, energy,